Crete

All tours on this holiday have now departed. Future departure dates will be confirmed in due course.

  • Tradition, culture and local life - a real insight into the 'authentic' Crete

  • The base for our stay - the atmospheric and historic Venetian harbour of Rethymnon

  • Authentic tasty local food in traditional village tavernas

  • Spectacular scenery

Crete, Greece’s largest island is known for its truly wonderful scenery and a fascinating destination for a cultural and historical tour, offering a wealth of sites that reflect its ancient Minoan culture dating back some 4,500 years. This ancient history is a prominent focus of our tour but Crete has seen numerous invaders in its long and turbulent history so we will also discover some more recent historic periods, particularly the Byzantine and Venetian eras, which led to two of the islands most beautiful towns, Chania in the west and our base the charming town of Rethymnon on the north coast.

ITINERARY

Day 1 – Monday 11th October
Arrive independently at London Gatwick for EasyJet flight to Chania. On arrival we will be met by our Tour Manager and we will transfer to Rethymnon and check in at Hotel Ideon for five nights. This afternoon we will have an orientation walk round Rethymnon with our Tour Manager followed by a Welcome Drink and dinner at a local restaurant.

Day 2 – Tuesday 12th October
After breakfast we will have a walking tour of Rethymnon Old Town with a local guide. Wandering on foot we will explore the atmospheric streets and narrow lanes of this historic town and during the tour we will see how traditional filo pastry is made. Lunch will be included at a local taverna followed by an afternoon visit to the picturesque Arkadi Monastery and the attractive pottery village of Margaritas. At the hotel we will have an early evening talk by James Finlay - ‘Battle for Crete’, followed by dinner included at a local taverna.

Day 3 – Wednesday 13th October
This morning we will visit Phaestos where a guided tour will be included. One of the four great palaces of the Minoan ‘Golden Age’ Phaestos, inhabited since around 4000BC, was excavated at the beginning of the century, with reconstruction kept to a minimum; it is a magnificent site with a commanding view of the Messara plain. We will have lunch included at a local restaurant in the village of Spili followed by afternoon visit to the Cemetery of Armeni. Excavation of the Minoan cemetery of Armeni has uncovered more than 200 graves and a wealth of Minoan artefacts. The vaulted tombs are hewn from rock and the numerous skeletons uncovered have given much information as to the physical appearance and health of the Minoan people. Dinner included in a local taverna this evening.

Day 4 – Thursday 14th October
Our first visit today will be to the Hellenistic site of Aptera where we will have a guided tour. One of the most extensive archaeological sites in western Crete, Aptera was founded in the Geometric period when the city reached its commercial peak as a Hellenistic settlement and later developed as a rural town under the Romans. It has a lovely scenic position and in April is usually alive with the vivid colours of spring. We will then continue to the Souda Bay Cemetery where we will learn of the tragic events of the 1941 ‘Battle of Crete’ before transferring to Chania for lunch in a local taverna. In the afternoon we will have a guided walk around Chania Old Town including a visit to the Synagogue. An atmospheric Venetian harbour town, Chania is set against a spectacular backdrop of majestic mountains and aquamarine seas. A turbulent history saw it occupied by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Venetians, the Turks and the Egyptians, and this has left behind a rich and captivating architectural heritage. Dinner included in a local taverna this evening.

Day 5 – Friday 15th October
Today we will have a full day guided excursion to the beautiful fertile Amari Valley known as a center of resistance to the Germans during the Battle of Crete and the German occupation. Mount Psioritis looms grandly above the valley and here we will visit a couple of Byzantine Churches. We will have lunch included at a local taverna. Late afternoon we will return to Rethymnon and we will have dinner included in a local taverna this evening.

Day 6 – Saturday 16th October
Following an early check out of our hotel we will transfer to Heraklion where a self-guided visit will be included to the exceptional Heraklion Archaeological Museum. This museum houses some of the most famous Minoan finds from Knossos and other sites on Crete. Late morning transfer to Heraklion Airport for EasyJet flight back to London Gatwick.

NB: Exact order of itinerary may vary according to local conditions and tour manager's discretion.

Please note the maximum group size on this tour is 25 passengers.

INCLUDED

Return economy flights • Five nights’ accommodation at Hotel Ideon • Breakfast daily • Welcome drink on Day 1, One glass of wine during talk on Day 2 • Four lunches and five dinners with wine included • Tour itinerary specified with accompanying tour manager • Guided visits and entrance fees • VOX headsets and gratuities

NOT INCLUDED

Meals and drinks not specified • Single supplement £85 • Upgraded flight seat selection on request and subject to a supplement • Sea view room supplement £21 per person based on twin occupancy - rooms on request • Travel Insurance • Porterage • All items of a personal nature

HOTELS

Rethymnon
The base for our tour is the atmospheric and historical Venetian harbour town of Rethymnon. This fantastic town has a colourful and historical past that is evident in the legacy of marvellous old buildings that line its narrow, pedestrianised streets. Perfect for strolling, sights here include the imposing battlements of the 16th century Venetian fortress, a picturesque harbour with a 13th century lighthouse and a delightful 'old town' full of cafes, tavernas and small shops selling local crafts, souvenirs and food. Easily accessed on foot from your hotel, the quaintness of this atmospheric old town will be sure to entice you again and again during your stay.

Ideon Hotel, Rethymnon
The Ideon Hotel is a three-star hotel well located right next to Rethymnon's fantastic Venetian harbour and just a 3 minute walk from the atmospheric back streets and narrow alleyways that characterise this fantastic old town and where you will find an excellent choice of tavernas, cafes and interesting small shops. 

The hotel offers comfortable air-conditioned rooms with private balcony, bath/shower, TV and telephone. The hotel facilities include a swimming pool, street cafe that overlooks the sea, lounge bar and restaurant. 

Ideon Hotel Website

OUR VIEW ON THE HOTEL
We chose this hotel first and foremost because of its excellent location, which is just a stone's throw from both the Venetian harbour and the atmospheric old town's historic backstreets, which makes dining out in the evening and exploring in your leisure time a very easy option. Equally importantly, we felt the hotel also offered comfortable and friendly three-star accommodation.